Thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation, the Department of Allied Health at Fort Hays State University has recently acquired state-of-the-art technology that will better prepare students for their chosen careers. FHSU dedicated an additional $75,000 to support this project and its implementation.
At Fort Hays State University, providing students with emerging technology and training is central to its mission of fostering innovation. The new technology affects multiple areas of medical imaging and includes a full-body X-ray imaging manikin and wireless digital board for X-ray equipment. In addition, they have obtained MRI and CT simulation and training software and multiple tissue-mimicking ultrasound phantoms for simulation. Working with ghosts provides hands-on, real-life learning and allows students to hone their skills before working with real patients.
Allied Health’s oldest radiographic unit in the department was upgraded to include newer digital capabilities. New simulation training software allows students to practice magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) skills within the classroom. In addition to helping students hone their skills, this simulation software allows online students participating in the department’s MRI certification program to imagine that they are in a clinical setting anywhere in the world.
Previously, the department had only one X-ray manikin to practice imaging technology that began to deteriorate due to wear and tear. In addition to his age, the old mannequin had a limited ability to move in certain positions. The new mannequin, coming later this year, will be fully articulated, allowing students to move their limbs, head and body like a real patient.
Students interested in working with sonography or ultrasound can now practice with the new tissue-mimicking phantoms, including a full abdominal model, models for different stages of pregnancy, and for breast imaging. These phantoms replicate real tissue and allow students to practice a variety of scenarios frequently encountered in the field. For students interested in obstetric images, the ghosts mimic real pregnancies.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, students were unable to practice without invited obstetric patients, a critical tool for running their training. By purchasing new technology, students no longer need to rely solely on guest patients to implement their skills. The expansion of training tools also allows more students in lab courses to practice at the same time than ever before.
Brenda Hoopingarner, associate professor and chair of the allied health department, says the new equipment will allow Fort Hays State University students to get more real-life experience on campus, making the transition to the clinical setting easier.
“Since students have limited time to work in a clinical setting, these tissue-mimicking phantoms and X-ray mannequins allow students to increase their efficiency and speed of learning here on campus,” says Hoopingarner.
Hoopingarner emphasized that new technology, in addition to talented faculty and staff, offers students an “unsurpassed” opportunity at FHSU.
“We want our graduates to come in and have the crucial resources to be successful in their degree program. Our training and equipment will make them the most successful so that when they enter the field after graduation, they can step in and function like a graduate would,” she says.
The FHSU Allied Health Department offers several highly competitive on-campus and online programs that train students for careers in medical imaging. The technology purchased with this funding will prepare highly qualified and credentialed medical imaging professionals who are dedicated to the Northwest Kansas region.
Visit fhsu.edu/alliedhealth for information on the Department of Allied Health at Fort Hays State University.